May 2, 2016

OTTAWA – News that Health Canada expects to make an abortion drug available in July has pro-life groups and doctors concerned.

"We're deeply saddened that this is going to become available to Canadian girls and women," said Campaign Life Coalition's Ottawa lobbyist Johanne Brownrigg.

"We're concerned girls and women in isolated communities will think of this as an answer to a difficult situation and in fact complicate their own health."

"Not enough has been said about how this pill combination can fail and the side effects are serious," she said.

Health Canada will not allow the drug Mifegymiso to be dispensed by pharmacists, however. Instead, specially-trained doctors will give the woman the first dose, which she must take in his or her presence.

Ottawa family physician Dr. Barbara Powell said, "Medically speaking, I worry about post-traumatic stress and negative physical side effects, including uncontrollable bleeding, infection, even possible death."

Once the woman goes home from the doctor's office, she is on her own, Powell said. "How do they assess the pain and bleeding? They're not medically-trained persons."

If the woman stays at home, she could miss seeing a serious complication, she said. "This is a particular problem in rural and remote communities."

Powell noted it is traumatic and painful enough for a woman to experience a miscarriage, but the body usually prepares for it for some days or weeks ahead of time.

Taking the drug skips this natural preparation, thus causing considerably more pain, she said.

"What I'm reading is people are quite surprised how painful it is, so they are likely to go to emergency," she said.

Seeing the unborn child could be a "huge shock" and be "very traumatic to see a tiny baby," said Powell. "They will see it first-hand, without anesthetic and sedation as would occur in a surgical termination."

Brownrigg said, "What it may do is desanitize an abortion procedure and remove the euphemisms that have clouded what is actually going on. A woman alone in her bathroom who sees her unborn child that she has aborted could change the face of abortion."

Abortion advocates, however, have expressed dismay over the restrictions Health Canada will impose on how the drug is dispensed because it may make the drug less accessible in regions where it is already difficult to get an abortion.

"This is what is dumbfounding: abortion rights activists persist in a cavalier disregard for the good health of women. Whether we're talking about sex selection abortion, or Mifegymiso, everything must be sacrificed on the altar of abortion," Brownrigg said.

"I hope women in isolated and rural communities find the care and support they need in an unplanned pregnancy because this pill is not the answer."